Sunday, October 22, 2017

Why I Left Facebook

One thing that I can tell you, is when you make a proclamation that you are leaving Facebook, many, many, many people will ask you “Why are you leaving Facebook?” It’s almost like you are saying, “I’ve decided to electively remove my leg from the calf down.” I get it. I’ve had very close friends leave Facebook, and I’ve wondered if they were losing their mind. Why would anyone want to turn their back on the best tool for connection ever known to mankind. And aren’t I the biggest hypocrite by posting on a blog, which if I remember correctly, has a Facebook page. Yeah, probably, but I have my reasons, and anyone who cares to know can read them here.

Reason #1: The Attachment

I left Facebook, but that is only part of the story. I actually left all social media. As the eight years of Facebook have passed by, I’ve realized I’m not just on Facebook. There is Instagram, and snapchat, twitter, and musically and linkedIn and a slew of other social media sights that slowly drag us into their bellies where we feel an obligation, or even an addition to checking, posting, and contributing to a low return game that demands hours each day, or at the very least a commitment to interrupt the real world with segue into the digital.

In Buddhism, the first noble truth is that there is suffering. The second is that suffering is a result of attachment. Social Media has not made me happy. In fact, my attachment to Facebook and the like has done the opposite. Social Media makes me suffer. It pulls me away from my children, my wife, and the simplicity of life that makes life worth living. It’s become an addiction of sorts and as I realize this truth, it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the drug of Facebook and social media has a very low return on investment. In the last 8 years, I cannot say that I am a happier person because of by compulsive attachment to social media.

Reason #2: The Division

The world is becoming more divided. Social media cloaks itself as the great unifier, but in reality, it divides us. When I joined social media, I was amazed that I could connect with family and friends far and away who I didn’t see or hear from in years. I never questioned, “Why?” Why would I want to connect with people from my childhood. Why the constant need to see pictures of the children of past girlfriends and mere acquaintances?  Why do I need to see the family vacation pictures from cousins whom I’ve never met? Why do I need to know all of your pain and success, and why do you need to know mine? I absorb the pain as my own, and become envious of the wins, which are only delivered as you prescribe. This isn’t a true picture of reality, but my emotional experience knows no difference.

I’ve realized that the closer I become, the further I get. We aren’t meant to have tribes of 2000, and the blurred experience never gives me clarity or perspective. Instead, what it provides is constant judgement. I judge your positives and negatives as though I’m some barometer for the universal condition, when in truth, we all suffer and we all succeed, but the social media lens through which we view this causes us to grow farther apart. You complain, I’m against you. You win, I’m against you. We are separate. I win or lose, and you feel the same disgust whether conscious or not.

Reason #3: The Echo Chamber Illusion

Quite simply, Social Media is an echo chamber. It reinforces our own beliefs by exposing us only to the media, ideas, and perspective that fits in our belief system. If a person or a company disagrees, we can choose to block, unfriend, or not “like” that particular point of view. Once we “like” or disengage, we continue to perpetuate a matrix in which we are continuously echoed with the opinions of our own mind. This eventually convinces us that we are correct and just and righteous in our own opinions. It eliminates subjectivity and creates an environment of “disagree with me even 1% and you are the enemy.”

In a world of 7 billion, surround yourself with the 1 million who agree with you 100% and you create a world of nearly 7 billion enemies.  The snake is eating its own tail in so many areas of society. Liberals fighting liberals. Conservatives fighting conservatives. If you don’t tow the exact line, you are deemed the enemy. I believe this is a product of social media. Maybe this is why the Russians, and the corporation and the powers that be know that they can control us by mirroring, splintering, and then leading us towards a separation that serves their own ends.

I’m done with the echo chamber. I’m done with suggested news. I’m done with reading the internet. My eyes will read paper and my fingers will turn pages rather than swiping a cracked glass screen. I want to learn more than what I know. I want to hear the other side. I want dissent, and I want to discuss and argue and think and feel without the label of “enemy.”

Reason #4: There’s an Alternative to the Unnatural Matrix

We are plugged in, almost constantly. For the last 8 years, I’ve spent nearly every bedtime and sunrise on social media. I’m drawn to it. I’ve wasted dinners with my family. I’ve wasted travel and time with my wife and playing with my children in order to compulsively check, brag, compare, and judge on social media. But it isn’t the real world. In the real world there are stars and heavens. We have cool breezes. We have music. Most people are good, kind and honest. We do not live in a world of predators. We live in a world of love, but the magnifying glass is focused on evil. Media tells us that we live in a pool of hate, but I believe if I disconnect and judge this universe by the character of the people I interact with on a daily basis, I will see the truth.

Yes, there will always be bad guys, but I want to truly see the accurate representation instead of believing I live in a poisoned world with no hope. At the very least, I want to disconnect from the system that is thinking for me by telling me what is what. I want to think for myself. I want to feed my mind with that of my choosing rather than listen to the noise of 2000 “friends.”

Stop Digging

When we find ourselves in a hole, the best thing to do is stop digging. In 8 years, social media has not made me a happy person. I feel more lonely. I feel more jealous. I feel close friends and family slipping away. I feel the “connectedness” promised by Facebook turned out to be superficial friendship with a side dish of isolation. I want connection and true friendship, even if it is with 5 humans and not 5000. I want to call and talk to my family instead of “liking” a post or wishing a Happy Birthday mindlessly on a website. I want debate for the purpose of learning rather than winning. I want the tested and true real life rather than this brave new world of disconnection, head sunken down, thumbs tapping away as the real friends, family and experience in front of me passes by.

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